BROOKSVILLE – It was an unqualified disaster for the host Brooksville Junior Boys (age 13) All-Stars at Ernie Wever Youth Park this weekend.
How bad did it get?
In the best-of-three District 6 Tournament against archrival Spring Hill, Brooksville was bounced in a pair of games at home, 19-0 on Saturday and 18-2 on Sunday.
Across 10 innings in two games, the host Brooksville nine failed to get one hit.
In Game 1, Spring Hill pitchers Jonathan Gates, Mikey Ebberup and Alex Hoover combined for a no-no behind one walk and a game-high 10 strikeouts.
In Game 2, Spring Hill’s Ryan Lotito Jr., Dalton Mosser, Joey Delgatto and Johnny Oliveira combined for a second straight no-no allowing three walks against nine punch-outs.
With the tourney sweep, the Spring Hill 13s earned a fifth straight District 6 crown and seventh in eight summers.
Head coach Ryan Lotito’s crew will advance to July 20 Junior Boys State Championship in Sebring.
Prior to the best-of-three series, both Hernando County Junior Boys teams had been invited to states in Highlands County. Instead, after Sunday’s second frustrating performance, Hernando Youth League director Mike Walker indicated that the Brooksville All-Stars would not be headed to states.
From the victors’ dugout, first-year skipper Lotito warned his club prior to the game about easing up on the proverbial gas pedal.
“Our mindset coming in was to play hard. The key was to continue to hustle,” admitted Coach Lotito after his club smacked 12 hits and took advantage of two hit batters, five wild pitches and 13 Brooksville free passes.
“Our boys adhered to the plan. We just continued to hit the ball,” he added. “What I was really impressed with was the back-to-back no-nos – that doesn’t happen every day. That’s a tribute to our pitchers and our defense.”
On garnering his first-ever district title, “It tastes great,” said Coach Lotito. “I was a part of several championship teams in Little League up north. What I’m most proud of is the total team effort. The kids showed a lot of respect to our opponents and we did a good job of staying humble.”
On Sunday, Spring Hill took advantage of Brooksville right-hander William Coffee’s early lack of command.
In the first inning, Coffee walked three batters including Mosser, who eventually scored on a second wild pitch to the backstop, 1-0.
The hosts had a golden opportunity to tie maters in the bottom of the first.
John Schiele opened the frame with a leadoff walk off Coach Lotito’s son, Ryan, before scampering to second on a wild pitch.
Lotito Jr. attempted to pick off Schiele at second base, but sailed an errant attempt into center field.
With Schiele at third base and nobody out, Wyatt Stewart grounded to third baseman Dakota Blevens.
On contact, Schiele broke toward home plate as Blevens threw a perfect peg to catcher Joey Delgatto for the easy out.
Spring Hill mushroomed the score by parading 11 batters to the plate to score six runs on four hits in the second.
The uprising was highlighted by a three-run double by Gates, RBI singles by Lotito Jr. and Delgatto, and a bases-loaded free pass to Mosser.
Coffee faced seven batters in the inning before being relieved by Mike Lineberry.
Coffee (0-1) faced 13 batters in 1 1/3 innings allowing seven runs (all earned) on three hits, five walks, three wild pitches and one hit batter.
Lineberry fanned the final two batters to extricate the hosts from the jam.
In the third, Lineberry couldn’t retire any of the five batters he faced – including four consecutive walks – in a seven-run Spring Hill rally.
The West Hernando County crew sent a conga line of 12 batters to the plate against Lineberry and Patrick Dresser.
Delgatto’s two-run double to right-center was preceded by a two-run single by Oliveira.
The inning included base-loaded walks to Gates and Blevens, and a Lotito Jr. sacrifice fly that nearly left the yard for a grand slam in deep left field.
All told, Lineberry departed after facing nine batters. He was charged with five runs (all earned) on two hits and five free passes against two strikeouts.
By comparison, Lotito Jr. (1-0) twirled the initial two frames for Spring Hill permitting one walk against two strikeouts.
Mosser replaced Lotito Jr. in the third and walked a pair while notching two strikeouts.
Down 14-0, Brooksville’s Tavis Drake reached on a walk, stole second and third base before scampering home on a Mosser wild pitch.
Gates opened the fourth with a double against Dresser – his second of a game-high three two-baggers – before Oliveira singled. Jason Kirkpatrick’s sacrifice fly to center plated Gates, 15-1.
Delgatto retired Brooksville in order in the bottom of the fourth.
In the fifth, Spring Hill tacked on three runs on three hits off Dresser.
Mosser rapped a two-run single before Gates crushed another RBI double to plate Mosser, 18-1.
In all, Dresser faced 17 batters across three innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits and three walks against two strikeouts.
Though Oliveira fanned four in the bottom of the fifth, Lineberry reached when a third strike popped out of Blevens’ glove for an error.
After Lineberry stole second base, he attempted to steal third. Catcher Blevens’ rushed throw, however, sailed into left field allowing Lineberry to easily score and close the books via the 10-run mercy-rule after five innings.
“Our mindset was to win,” stressed the 13-year-old Gates after finishing 3-for-3 with three runs scored along with a game-high five RBI. “Even though we won Saturday, we didn’t want to take anything for granted.”
On the significance of the District 6 title, “It’s big because we get to go to states as district champs,” replied Gates. “I thought I had a pretty good day, but it wasn’t my best.”
“I saw the ball real well,” described the 13-year-old Oliveira, who finished 3-for-5 with two RBI. “I had a lot of fun today being with my team. As a pitcher, the run support is always great.
“Winning districts never gets old,” added Oliveira. “This is my fourth district championship. I want to continue winning and doing well at states.”
Though Mosser scored a game-high four runs, Lotito Jr. tied Gates by chipping in three runs scored.
“I have to thank God for allowing me to play to the best of my ability,” explained the younger Lotito, who recently turned 14. “Brooksville was well-coached, but we have a bunch of fighters who just beginning to jell.
“This is my first district championship and it’s great,” added Lotito Jr. “The early run support kept me calm. Those runs showed that my teammates have my back.”
In recapping Game 1’s 19-0 victory, Gates opened on the hill. He twirled three innings not allowing a walk while notching seven strikeouts.
Ebberup walked one against two strikeouts in a scoreless fourth inning. Hoover pitched a scoreless fifth not issuing a walk against one strikeout.
Offensively, Zach Funkhouser, Mosser and Gates each cracked a double.
Dominick Rado and Gates each clubbed two safeties while Mosser rapped a team-high three hits.
Spring Hill 18, Brooksville 2 (5 Inn.)
123 45 R H E
SH 167 13 – 18 12 3
BRK 001 01 – 2 0 1
SHA – Lotito, Mosser (3), Delgatto (4), Oliveira (5) and Delgatto, Blevens (4).
BRK – Coffee, Lineberry (2), Dresser (3) and Wilson.
W – Lotito (1-0). L – Coffee (0-1).
2B – Gates 3, Delgatto (SH).
Records – Spring Hill (2-0), Brooksville (0-2).
District 6 Junior Boys (age 13) All-Stars Tourney Recap
at Brooksville’s Ernie Weaver Youth Park
Spring Hill 19, Brooksville 0 (4.5 Innings)
Spring Hill 18, Brooksville 2 (5)
2013 District 6 Junior Boys (age 13) Standings at Brooksville’s Ernie Wever Youth Park
PL TEAM W L .PCT RS RA
1. Spring Hill* 2 0 1.000 37 02
2. Brooksville 0 2 .000 02 37
TOTALS 2 2 .500
* Advances to July 20 Junior Boys State Championship in Sebring.
By the Numbers: Spring Hill Junior Boys (age 13) District 6 Results (2001-13)
– Compiled by TONY CASTRO
YR W L .PCT HEAD COACH
2001 1 2 .333 Craig Schreiber
2002 3 2 .600 Mike Gomez
2003 3 2 .600 Doug DeRespris
2004 3 2 .600 Jim Nicolini
2005+ 2 2 .500 Terry Forgach
2006$+ 3 0 1.000 Rob Owens
2007$+ 3 0 1.000 Mike Sollazzo
2008 0 2 .000 Joe Abbadessa
2009$+ 2 0 1.000 Jim Keith
2010$+ 3 0 1.000 Vito Tambasco, Sr.
2011$$= 3 0 1.000 Jeff Hamilton
2012$+ 2 0 1.000 Shawn Laferty
2013$+ 2 0 1.000 Ryan Lotito
TOTALS 30 12 .714 -13-